Background Compression injuries of the thoracolumbar spine without neurological impairment are usually treated with minimally invasive procedures. Intravertebral expandable implants represent an alternative strategy in fractures with low fragments’ displacement.
Methods Patients with A2, A3 and A4 fractures of the T10–L2 spinal segment without neurological impairment, fracture gap >2 mm, vertebra plana, pedicle rupture, pedicle diameter <6 mm, spinal canal encroachment ≥50%, and vertebral body spread >30% were treated with the SpineJack device. Patients with pathological/osteoporotic fractures were excluded. Demographic and fracture-related data were assessed together with vertebral kyphosis correction, vertebral height restoration/loss of correction and final kyphosis. The modified Rankin Scale (mRS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Smiley–Webster Pain Scale (SWPS) and EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) were evaluated at 1 (-post), 6 and 12 months (-fup) after surgery. Statistical analysis was performed and p values ≤0.05 were considered significant.
Results Fifty-seven patients were included in the study. Patients aged >60 years reported worse kyphosis correction (<4°) with more postoperative complications, while vertebral plasticity in younger patients, fragmentation-related greater remodeling in A3/A4 fractures, and treatments within 7 days of trauma determined superior wedging corrections, with better EQ-5D-post and mRS-fup. Cement leakages did not affect functional outcome, while female gender and American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) score of 3–4 were associated with worse ODI-fup and VAS-fup. Although fracture characteristics and radiological outcome did not negatively influence the clinical outcome, A2 fracture was a risk factor for complications, thus indirectly compromising both the functional and radiological outcome.
Conclusion With spread of <30%, the SpineJack is an alternative to minimally invasive fixations for treating A3/A4 thoracolumbar fractures, being able to preserve healthy motion segments in younger patients and provide an ultra-conservative procedure for elderly and fragile patients.
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